"Nashville" Tackles Substance Abuse

The sudsy new ABC nighttime soap Nashville may not be a completely realistic take on the music biz – or life in Music City (locals would never hang out at the riverfront!) – but its portrayal of addiction is hitting home.

Troubled young country star Juliette (played by Hayden Panettiere) doesn’t know what to do about her mom’s substance abuse problem. The mother has been ordered to stay at her daughter’s home until a sentencing hearing related to her drug problem or until she agrees to seek treatment. As a result Juliette goes through a very realistic range of emotions. She avoids the problem by staying in the studio all night working. She gets frustrated after finding her mom passed out in bed with an unknown guy and a bedside table full of empty liquor bottles and prescription pills. She argues, confronting her half-clothed mother on the sidewalk in front of the house. None of it is helpful, but it is familiar to anyone dealing with a loved one’s addiction. Juliette’s mom has some textbook responses too. When confronted she angrily insists she doesn’t have a problem despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Only when a helpful bodyguard suggests bringing in someone without so much emotional baggage does the whole situation take a turn. Juliette reaches out a fellow musician, Deacon, who has an addiction history of his own.

“I can get back on track,” mama Jolene insists when Deacon first approaches her.

“You just need a little help,” Deacon agrees. “If you could do this on your own, don’t you think you probably would have done it by now?”

She continues to protest, insisting, “Those places don’t work for me.”

“That’s exactly what I said until one of them did,” Deacon counters calmly.

As she still resists, Deacon tells her, “I can’t promise what’s gonna happen if you get clean, but unfortunately I know exactly what’s going to happen if you don’t.”

She eventually agrees but has second thoughts as they arrive outside the treatment facility.

“I was just thinking,” she says.

“Thinking’s not your friend right now, Jolene,” Deacon warns, taking away a bottle of pills that she drops after trying to smuggle them in.

After one more dramatic scene with her daughter, Jolene finally enters treatment. But as we all know, addiction doesn’t end there. We are reminded of that when we see Deacon later at a restaurant with his sponsor. As they sit in the booth talking, he hands over the bottle of pills, confessing he stayed up all night counting them over and over again but resisted the urge to take one.

Will we get to see Jolene get to such a healthy point in her recovery journey? You’ll have to tune in to find out.

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